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Fri, May 19, 2006

Mesaba Pilots Claim Vindication

ALPA: Management Must Reassess Plans for Airline's Future

Mesaba Airline pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International, tell ANN that they feel gratified by the bankruptcy court's decision (Thursday) denying Mesaba management's 1113(c) motion to reject their contract. Pilots say that during the 15 days of lengthy testimony in this case, Mesaba failed to substantiate the need for the drastic cuts it was seeking from employees.

"I'm sure that every Mesaba pilot is breathing a sigh of relief over today's announcement," said Captain Tom Wychor, chairman of the ALPA unit at Mesaba. "All along ALPA has said that the company does not need such drastic pay and benefit cuts, and today we have been vindicated. However, the bankruptcy court's decision does not address the root of the problem -- that our company is facing a serious crisis if it does not rebuild and plan appropriately for the future."

Pilots have been looking for ways to give the company financial relief since October 2005. To date, these discussions have not yielded any tangible results, largely because management has been insistent on enormous wage cuts and refused to consider other money-saving avenues proposed by pilots.

"The only way that this company, our airline, is going to survive and prosper is through consensual agreement between management and its labor groups. Pilots will not work for the kind of substandard wages management was trying to impose," said Wychor.

Mesaba pilot wages are at industry average, and as such the airline has been able to retain quality professionals that have provided passengers with impeccable safety, on-time reliability and overall high quality service as a Northwest Airlink carrier. Pilots are willing to do their share to ensure that this record of excellence continues.

Starting salaries for Mesaba pilots, who operate both jet and turboprop aircraft, is just $21,000 per year. An average Mesaba pilot makes approximately $45,000. Management's term sheet slashed wages and benefits to the lowest levels in the industry.

Mesaba Airlines operates as a Northwest Airlink partner under a service agreement with Northwest Airlines. Mesaba currently flies over 460 flights into Minneapolis, Detroit and Memphis to 112 cities throughout the United States and Canada. Several airports throughout Northern Minnesota and Northern Michigan will be completely without service if the Mesaba pilots were forced to strike.

FMI: http://www.alpa.org/

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